I have a fondness for all things fancy that sparkle and shine. However, like so many brides, the budget was a big deal to me. I simply couldn't justify going into debt for a wedding. Six months ago I began the task of planning a destination wedding for 80 people on a 12K budget. Here our my secrets.
First, I decided what I simply wouldn't compromise on. There was only one thing--the photographer. The photos would be all that we would have at the end of the day, so it seemed really important to get some great ones. Our photographer took up over a third of our budget, coming in at $4500. So, that was our splurge. Here are our savings.
FREE! How can you argue with free? We are getting married at my grandmother's house (built by my grandfather) in Charleston, SC. Both the ceremony and the reception will be held there. It's a beautiful place to get married, and it means a lot to me to get married there.
I knew from the beginning that we were going to DIY the flowers. Initially, I had my heart set on roses. However, I had a change of heart. I saw a picture of baby's breath flowers and fell in love. So, now I'm using baby's breath for all the bouquets but mine (which will be spray roses). And the best part (besides the its natural beauty) is for $100 I can get enough baby's breath for my three bridesmaids bouquets, 6 boutonnieres, a wreath for the ceremony site, and 10 centerpieces. Here are the bouquets. Aren't they pretty?!
A Grand Exit- Sparklers and Matchbooks
I've always wanted fireworks at my wedding. And I always knew that wasn't going to happen. Well, not in its entirety. Instead, I'm having super pretty sparklers. To make the sparklers look pretty, I made a design in Illustrator, printed it on heavy cardstock, and cut slits in the cardstock to hold the sparklers.
I also made coordinating matchboxes. I bought regular grocery store matches and recovered the boxes with a design I made using illustrator. It was so simple and saved us a bundle. The matchboxes worked out to cost about $.12 each, compared to almost a dollar at most places online.
I found my shoes on sale at Zappos for $70. Super cute!
Invitations & Save the Dates
I know invitations set the mood for the event so I wanted to make sure my invitation was elegant and classic. I also knew letter pressed invites weren't
in the budget. So, I got to work. I printed our invitations and glued them on hand embossed cardstock. I then wrapped them in a black velvet band and tied them with an ivory satin bow. I stuffed them in black linen envelopes that I lined myself and sealed the deal with a hand embossed "G". I love how they turned out!
To further help us save cash, we did digital save the dates and opted to have people RSVP on our website or via phone.
Fans as Programs
We're getting married in the dead of summer outside in South Carolina. Hot doesn't even begin to describe what we're getting into. To help keep our guests comfortable, we wanted to order fans for everyone. However, at a dollar a fan, that didn't fit into the budget. So, instead we decided to kill two birds with one stone. We made paper fans that also served as programs. They were a lot of work (we cut out 400 fan blades), but they came out great! Here's my inspiration:
A Ribbon Toss
Instead of spending lots of money on the traditional flower petals, we decided we are going to have a ribbon toss. After the ceremony, we are having cones of ribbon tossed at us as we walk down the aisle to "A Ribbon In the Sky". Total cost= $12.
A d.j. wasn't an option, especially after the photographer splurge. However, we knew we HAD to have dancing! We LOVE music and dancing way too much to go without. So we are renting a sound system ($150) and hooking up an ipod. The best part? The party can go as long as we want!
You can't go wrong with Trader Joe's 2 buck chuck. We're having a beer and wine bar, with a signature "Pink Lemonade" drink. And for a cool treat on a hot summer night, we're having root beer floats for a late night snack.
We're having local food made by someone my grandmother knows. The menu- BBQ chicken, Shrimp and Grits, Green Beans, Squash Casserole, Biscuits and Cornbread, Red Rice, and Mac & Cheese. And of course lemonade and sweet tea. We're getting all of that food for $22 a person.
Gifts for the Bridal Party
I wanted to get something special for each girl in my bridal party. They deserve it. Instead of spending a fortune, I decided to use my resources. My cousin makes jewelry that is just beautiful! So, I asked her to string pearls for my girls. For $30 I'm getting three strand freshwater pearl necklaces and earrings for each girl. Perfect!
I was floored when I saw how much veils cost. So, I decided to make my own veil. It was way less difficult than I anticipated. And it only cost $12!
I stocked up on pretty hurricane candle holders on an after Christmas sale at Michaels. For $160 I got 45 different sized silver and glass hurricanes. I'm going to use lots and lots of candles on the dinner tables for center pieces. I bought 72 votive candles and candle holders online for $40. Here was my inspiration:
I am using our christmas lights, plus my parents christmas lights, to decorate all the bushes around the ceremony location. I bought paper lanterns on clearance at Michaels for $1 each. I'm going to hang them from a tree.
We want our wedding to be a reflection of us and to bring together all the people we love most. Our favors are helping us do this. We are using our grandmother's pound cake recipes and making mini pound cakes for our guests! Yumm! Total cost $40
We are making our own reserved seating signs with extra paper. And for place cards, we're pinning shimmery business cards on extra satin ribbon and hanging it from foam core that has been wrapped in pretty paper. Total cost $20
I REALLY wanted a photo booth at our wedding! I think they are so stinkin cute! However, one didn't fall into the budget. So we decided to make our own. The fabric cost $10 from Joann fabrics with a coupon and my mom is sewing it together. We're using our camera and my dad's tripod.
My uncle, an Episcopal priest, is marrying is for free! Perfection.
Chavari chars are beautiful, but didn't make our budget cut. Instead we're renting wooden chairs at $1.50 a chair. That's a huge savings ($6.50 a chair)! And to make it even better, we're not renting chairs for the ceremony and the dinner. We're going to rend about 100 and just have my brothers and a few guys move the chairs from the ceremony spot to the dinner location.
We're having my brother videotape everything and then we're going to upload the video into iMovie and edit it ourselves. Can't beat free!
We had a friend take pictures around the city (for free) and then had a guestbook printed using Inkubook and a coupon. It cost us about $20 total. We love it!